Judge Wants Clarification of Jurisdiction of Two Maryland Magistrates

HARPER, Maryland – The resident judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court in Harper says he is concerned that the magistrates of Pleebo and Gedetarbo are not respecting their respective jurisdictions.

Judge Nelson Tokpah told The Bush Chicken in an interview that the two magistrates, who are both located in Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District, needed to examine the act that created their respective courts to allow them to properly identify the boundaries and limitations of their respective jurisdictions.

If this situation is not addressed, Tokpah said it will impede the dispensation of justice. He noted that both magistrates were claiming rights over cases from all parts of the district.

“Magistrates need to be aware that they are [the] direct representation of the justice system in Maryland and Liberia at large,” Tokpah said. “This situation needs to be settled with urgency if the citizens must test and trust the justice system in the areas.”

According to the judge, the Pleebo Magisterial Court has been claiming that the Gedetarbo Magisterial Court has no jurisdiction over cases coming from Pleebo, while the Gedetarbo Magisterial Court is also claiming jurisdictions on all cases in the district.

Meanwhile, the Carter Center representative in Maryland, Michael Biddle, has promised that his organization would offer to collaborate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to research the establishment of the two courts as a means of helping to resolve the fight over jurisdiction.

“If that can be made verbal or informal, the Carter Center stands by to work cooperatively with the court to ensure that this issue is laid to rest in this term of court,” he said.

Both magistrates declined to speak to the issue, however, they agreed to work with the Carter Center and the circuit court judge to find an amicable solution.

The regional coordinator of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in the Southeast, Thomas Mawolo, also promised to work with the circuit judge to host a roundtable conference to reconcile the two magistrates in order to gain the trust of citizens.

“The court is the last place of man’s hope on earth and if those responsible to render judgment are at loggerheads, it will impede the dispensation of justice,” Mawolo said.

Featured photo by George Momo

George Momo

George Momo is also a reporter for the Liberia Broadcasting System and the president of the Maryland Press Association.

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